(Yicai Global) April 8 -- More than 400 disease control personnel from across China were sent to Wuhan to help the city formerly at the center of the coronavirus battle the outbreak. They carried out extensive epidemiological investigation work and also helped local disease control workers to improve their skills.
“When we arrived we found that epidemiological investigation done by local grassroots-level disease control units was not accurate and comprehensive enough,” Zhang Liwei, a team member from another province, told Yicai Global.
Zhang was sent to Wuhan’s Xinzhou district center for disease control where infrastructure, both in terms of laboratory equipment and professional skills, were relatively backward. The CDC’s lab couldn’t do nucleic acid testing amid the Covid-19.
“If a lab cannot do nucleic acid testing, then apart from Covid-19, it cannot complete pathogenic detection of many viruses or bacteria as well,” Zhang said.
In Zhang’s view the most important task for local CDCs in the future is to improve their virus detection capability, while strengthening professional training.
“If the introduction of temporary talent from outside is difficult, then the existing CDC teams must improve their overall professional skills through learning and communication with each other,” Zhang said.
Disease Control Talent
China’s National Health Commission organized a one-week training for disease control personnel in Wuhan late last month as the Covid-19 situation eased. The training involved public health workers from CDCs, hospitals, health clinics in villages and towns, and community-based health service centers in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital.
The disease control support team also trained local education staff as students returned to school, including virus control management, disinfection and personal protection.
“Around 7,000 people took part in the online training, with education staff telling us that it was useful,” said Xiao Bin, a disease control worker from Guangdong province.
The team also trained staff at prisons, detention houses and welfare houses, places where people are inevitably bunched up together, to help them with virus control management.
“The training was completely tailored to meet local needs and involved a large number of venues, institutions and staffers. Its aim was to train a team of its own for Wuhan,” Xiao said.
Covid-19 Is Demanding
Some of the visiting disease control team personnel are still in Wuhan though the virus situation there has eased and the city’s lockdown was lifted today.
“Disease control staffers must make an overall assessment of the virus risk,” a medical worker who has just finished the Wuhan mission told Yicai Global. “For example, further work is needed on people who continue to test positive for nucleic acid as well as research on the virus’ infectiousness. They must also make an overall evaluation on the risks for local companies to resume operation and production after the outbreak.”
The team carried out accurate epidemiological investigation on asymptomatic Covid-19 carriers in Wuhan before members began leaving the city, Xiao said, adding that “such investigation requires more elaborate efforts to identify close contacts of asymptomatic carriers and any possible source of infection.”
In order for enterprises to resume operation, one of the disease control personnel’s major tasks was to guide local companies on epidemic control. Xiao and his colleagues trained and gave guidance to more than 90 firms on production resumption in Caidian district.
“If we found a site with high risk of Covid-19 outbreak, we would recommend that they postpone resumption of work,” he said. “The others were guided on how to prevent disease and resume operation in an orderly manner.”
Zhang, who has been at the Xinzhou district CDC, revealed that since the easing of the outbreak, he and his team have been guiding local firms on prevention and control of the virus.
“Our workload is not as intense as when we first arrived,” Zhang said. “The psychological burden is also not so heavy, but we work longer than before and walk more.”
Editors: Tang Shihua, Peter Thomas